Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Deaf Boy Tasered - Police Violence and Disability continued

For the past year, I have been writing about a persistent pattern of police violence against people with disabilities. I have been particularly focused on the Ethan Saylor case, of course.

But the stories proliferate, with a new one almost every week. On Monday, I argued that you can read both the Times Square police shooting and the Ferrell case through the lens of police not knowing/caring how to respond to people acting "differently." The racial reading is of course front and center for that second case, of course, but seen through the lens of trying to explain how Ferrell is acting, temporarily disability following an accident makes sense.

Alas, the stories proliferate, many of them following the general pattern of the cult of compliance. Digby, who is one of the leaders on this topic, brought this story to my attention.

A deaf boy was escaping abuse and ran away from a school. The police found him, approached, then tasered him when he didn't respond. Here's the key paragraph -

Police arrived at the construction site after dark. Knowing the boy was deaf, they allegedly made no effort to warn or communicate with him, but Tasered him from behind. As A.M. writhed on the ground from the “burns, paralysis and pain” caused by the Taser barbs, the two police officers rushed him and placed him in handcuffs.
There's a lawsuit, some money will change hands, and in no way will the cult of compliance be threatened.

It's worth thinking through this scene from the perspective of the police officer.  It's dark. He knows the boy is deaf so can't be verbally controlled. At that point he just decides to solve the problem with a quick jolt of 40,000 volts. Does he talk about it with his partner first? I suppose they are worried he'll run away again (a reasonable guess given the awful situation).

We need to assert our right NOT to be tasered just because the police want us to comply. It's crazy that we have to even argue for this.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work David. Something must be done to bring about "Thin Thug Line" reform before it gets any worse than it already is! Peace

Anonymous said...

Finally, someone labeled this widespread and grossly under-reported "phenomenon."

Anonymous said...

The proliferation of police SWAT teams and their out of control violence and increasing use even for regulation enforcement is much the other side of this coin. It all ties together and the bottom line is that more and more there is less and less any limit on what the police can do to citizens even involved in very, very minor infractions. There is a military mentality of extreme aggression towards civilians, all are guilty even *after* being proven otherwise, every encounter a dangerous situation justifying lethal means to stay in full control where often the danger itself is born entirely of the police tactics themselves.

How many Iraq and Afghanistan vets have unavoidably brought their battlefield experiences and PTSD back with them and joined the police to put those experiences to use?
By the way, I'm not blaming vets nor even saying that many vets have become policemen - I have no knowledge of that, but it is thematic that the climate has changed vastly since 9/11 and that it is very striking that the same uses of extreme force to control citizen and invade their homes is now taking place so much more often in the US. It is shocking. The terrorists have greatly achieved their objectives in the classic paradigm of pushing the state into using more and more violence to control and terrorize its own citizens in reaction to the terrorists actions. It's altogether totally sickening.

Andrew Keir said...

Every police force (the clue's in the name) tends towards greater powers, less oversight and zero accountability. It is the duty of every member of society to push back against this, have a clear line that separates 'reasonable' from 'unreasonable' behaviour, and raise holy hell when anyone - citizen or officer, and however stressed, unsupported, or afraid - lets the 'red mist' descend and switches to attack mode.
In the first seconds of an event, a habit of politeness (from both sides) often eases things - but, in the long run, unthinking obedience is not a citizen's duty, while persistent comment about wrong-doing is.